Georgian conflict a threat to Afghan transit plan?

The potential implications of the current Georgian situation for proposed NATO rail transit traffic to Afghanistan via Uzbekistan are considered at Ghosts of Alexander. The initial Central Asian transit route agreement that was reached earlier this year had the approval of Russia says Russia, Georgia, NATO and Afghanistan, asking Is it doomed? Is it just one of several bargaining chips that Russia has (the big one being energy)?

There is a link to a handy map of Uzbekistan’s railways.

An earlier posting on, Termez, Where the “T” Is for “Transit”, considers the problems of supplying NATO in Afghanistan. The few rails that operate along the Amu Darya have major rail break problems, in that they operate at a different gauge than their neighbors. This tells me freight can make it only as far as Termez, and from there is must be either shipped or flown to its final destination.

This is not quite right – the break-of-gauge is between the former USSR and elsewhere (except Finland and Mongolia, which use “Russian” gauge). There are transhipment and dual-gauge facilities around the various borders, so a wagon could in theory run from (say) Poland to Afghanistan without the gauge being an issue.

The two existing lines in Afghanistan are to the 1520 mm Russian gauge, though the line from Iran to Herat will be standard gauge.

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